August 2017

The Raptor is what YOU make it so please do keep sending all the sightings and information through.
In line with current eco-trends and aiming for a 'greener' lifestyle this is an e-newsletter - it does not conform to traditional page sizes and is not designed to be printed.

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In This Issue
The return of the Quelea! An interesting season...
Caught in the act! Camera trap survey results
Breeding Birds The ups & downs of nature
Interesting Sightings Observations from our residents
Photo Gallery Great results from our photographers

The Return of the Quelea! - Derek Solomon, RV254

Most residents have enjoyed and commented on the return of the thousands of Red-billed Queleas - we had them here in droves at the beginning of the year - descending onto the super-abundance of grass seeds, but their return over the last few months is a bit of a mystery. Although not apparent, there must still be seeds or other food for them. One wonders where our January birds went to breed?

A comment from Michael Brooke (RV200) echoes what many others have said "In 12½ years on Raptors I don’t ever recall seeing the huge swarms of queleas as this year. It’s so fascinating how different environmental cycles precipitate different events."

This is turning out to be an interesting season - with the return of the quelea, early flowering of the Knobthorns and records of late breeding birds.

Camera Trap Survey Results - Jeremy Bolton, RV252
scrub hare From late March to early May 2017 I conducted a survey on the estate with 45 camera traps. During this period the cameras recorded almost 45 000 images which were then purged of all non-wildlife photos. Of the remaining 32 000 images I extracted 3 500 events (an event could be a single jackal running past or a herd of impala standing in front of the camera for hours). These were then analysed in respect of species, habitat and location.

The cameras recorded 35 different large mammal species. This is an impressive list for a small estate considering that my preceding survey in the Kruger only turned up 25 species – including the big 5.

The most commonly recorded mammal was the grey duiker, followed by impala. However this doesn’t suggest that there are more duiker than impalas on the estate. Of the carnivores, jackals were recorded most often, followed by civet and then wild dog! Hyenas were next, but were generally seen along the fences and brown hyena were, sadly, only seen through the fence. Leopards were recorded on 16 occasions. Some of the least frequently seen species were caracal, cape clawless otter and bushpig.

The 35 species are:
Bush Buck
Eland *
Scrub Hare
Mongoose - Slender, Dwarf, Banded &White-tailed
Genet - Small-Spotted, Large Spotted

Wild Dog
African Wild Cat
Spotted Hyena
Brown Hyena *
Honey Badger
Cape Clawless Otter
* seen through the fence

Surveys like this provide an interesting snapshot of the mammal populations at a given time. Therefor it is hoped that further surveys like this can be done to establish trends in mammal numbers between different times of the year as well as longer periods like wet and dry cycles.

Thanks to all involved for the assistance as well as putting up with my cameras along the trails and roads. Thanks too for all the waves, smiles and dances that the cameras regularly recorded!
Read the full report HERE

Breeding Birds - Keith Hartshorne, RV298
It's been success and failure at #298 this past breeding season. We were delighted to see 3 Ashy Flycatcher chicks successfully raised under the eve right next to our busy sliding door on to the patio! This was over Christmas when we had 8 people here continuously in and out of that door and the parents happily persevered through the festivities delivering food to their demanding chicks .

Sadly our Red-headed Weavers were not so lucky - their nest was raided by a Boomslang

flycatcher flycatcher chicks

weaver boomslang

Interesting Sightings on the Estate
Wild Cat
A relaxed African Wild Cat who wanders up to
our deck on occasion.
Julie & Steve Benbow, RV247
eagle owl
An up close and personal shot of a Spotted Eagle Owl in our courtyard. (photo by Derek Andrews, RV194)
Jeremy & Jill Brown, RV192

hooded vulture
Hooded Vultures at the Wild Dog kill site at Hamerkop Dam. Mark Lotwis, RV212

A very uncommon sighting of a Bushpig caught on our camera trap on 7 April at 8.30 in the evening.
Mark Lotwis, RV212
A very casual leopard again on a camera trap at 7.30 in the morning back in January.
David & Shayne Hingle, RV197

This Ammocharis only pushes its leaves through after some rain and made an appearance after the 31mm back in April. Maryke & Gerhard Redecker, RV100
scorpionA scorpion found hiding under a log in the cold winter months.
Dave & Hilna Berry, RV65

giant eagle owls
A lovely pair of Verreaux's Eagle Owls seen off our deck for 2 consecutive nights back in March.
Schöne Grüsse & Werner Magerl, RV162

fungus moth
Some mystery species from Joan Arnestad, RV230 that need identification! The first now identified as 'Bluegum woodcap a common bushveld fungus that grows in small groups on the rotting wood of broad-leaved trees in the summer' (taken from The Bushveld by Lee Gutteridge); and the closest ID we have on the second is some sort of moth! "It was about 1.5 cm long with what looked like two sets of wings, and the furry, fluffy part was constantly moving - almost like a sea anemone."
IDs welcome!

helmet shrikes helmet shrikes
I was thrilled to see (and photograph) these Retz’s Helmetshrikes shadow dancing in one of our windows on June 12, Mark Lotwis, RV212

Eds - Birds attacking, fighting, calling, singing, staring, pecking, displaying or flying at their reflections in mirrors or windows is known as shadow boxing. Joel Roerig has published a very interesting paper on this behaviour that includes 74 species of Southern African birds behaving like this; ranging from the huge Southern Ground hornbill that actually breaks windows to a variety of species recorded here on Raptor's View like the Retz’s Helmetshrikes above. Read Joel’s paper HERE

Civet just after midnight on 4 July
David & Shayne Hingle, RV197
honey badger
Honey Badger at 7.15pm on 27 June
David & Shayne Hingle, RV197

Photo Gallery
Mating Milkweed Locust, Mark Lotwis, RV212

star chestnut
Star Chestnut, Richard Braun, RV255

A scorpion carrying her young. Chris Gregory, RV221

African Hoopoe
African Hoopoe (my favourite bird spotted in our garden in January)
Mirjam Busink-Deurloo, RV119

olive toads
Eastern Olive Toads, Mark Lotwis, RV212

Please send your notes and photos to the editors (Derek & Sarah Solomon) on